These are interesting times for those who enforce energy standards across the United States.  Building codes and ordinances are similar to any other laws enforced by the judicial system in that they exist on several levels.There are international building codes, federal and state building codes, and even local building codes and ordinances.  While each set of regulations has similar fundamental characteristics, one can see variance according to a particular region's energy initiatives.  

Energy efficiency initiatives are they driving force behind changes in building codes to become more stringent on energy consumption.  While Germany, Denmark, and Switzerland remain some of the most energy efficient countries, the United States struggles to keep up.  One state that is pushing energy efficient initiatives far more than others is California. The results are proven by a measure of per capita energy consumption. California's per capita energy consumption is 50% less than the average of all other states.  

One large contributing factor to California's energy efficiency achievements is the Title 24, Part 6 of the 2008 Building Energy Efficiency Standards. These standards meet and exceed federal Energy Star standards for many categories of building code requirements.  One category that is strongly enforced in terms of energy efficiency is lighting, section 150(k).  

 
There are many reasons to use occupancy sensors in your home or office.  They can add convenience and luxury to any space at an affordable price.  However the most popular reason to install occupancy sensor switches is to increase a building's energy efficiency and save the owner money.  It is always cost effective to install occupancy sensors, but this guide will help determine the most cost effective automated lighting plan using occupancy sensors in your home or office.  With the help from historical statistics from the EPA, the Energy Efficient Lighting Supply has identified the most cost effective spaces to install occupancy sensors.  Click below to view the guide.
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Motion-activated path lights combine the technology of an occupancy sensor with high output, low consumption LED lights.  Path lights can be hardwired with a low voltage power source or battery powered for flexible design and ease of installation.  In each case, occupancy sensing or motion-activated path lights are convenient way to add useful lighting to a space while saving
energy.

Path lights are specifically designed to light up dark corridors or stairwells which rarely see natural light, even in the daytime.  Rather than wiring extra light fixtures to light these areas and inconvenience with you with light switches which we tend to leave on when not needed, occupancy sensing pathlights will turn themselves on or off when needed and not needed.  This is not only a luxury but also a safety feature to add to your home or backyard. Consider how many times you find yourself shuffling around in a dark hallway looking for a light switch.  With motion-activating path lights there is no need to dangerously walk around un-lit stairwells anymore.

Motion-activating path lights also add a modern and futuristic look that is sure to blend in with and spice up even the most conventional decor.  Here are several examples of where you can use occupancy sensing path lights to add convenience, safety, and luxury to your living spaces.

1.  Stairwell or Hallway- Of course, this is the most popular use for occupancy sensing pathlights.  Path lights will turn on one by one as an occupant ascends or descends your dark hallway.  This safety feature looks luxurious and is sure to add flare to an otherwise boring space.

2. Outdoor stairs-  Outdoor pathways often include stairs to adjust elevation changes in the terrain.  These stairs are often trip hazards in areas that are not always lit.  Trust motion-activated path lights on each riser to detect an occupant when he or she is six feet away and light up the stairs.

3.  Under Cabinet Lighting- Install motion activated path lights in your kitchen to light up shaded work spaces under your upper wall cabinets.  This alternative to traditional LED under cabinet lighting can save even more energy and look even cooler as it lights up only the counter top space that you are using.

4.  Gallery lighting- Add an extra dimension to the artwork in your home.  As occupants walk by to observe hanging artwork a motion activated path light mounted over your painting or series of paintings is sure to draw them in and bring your artwork to life.

5.  Closet spotlights- Closets in older homes and even some newer homes are rarely wired for lighting.  And if they are, occupants are constantly leaving the closet  light on!  Never leave the closet light on again with occupancy sensing  path lights over each section of clothing.  This will make getting up and picking out your clothes fun and easier than ever.
 
An occupancy sensor is a small electronic component, about the size of a light switch, that can detect the presence or absence of occupants in a space, thus turning the lights they are controlling on or off.  There are two main types of occupancy sensors; one uses passive infrared technology while the other uses ultrasonic technology.  

Passive Infrared sensors detect heat energy in a room.  By sending an array of infrared lasers from its location in a room it can detect when one crosses the ‘line of sight’ of the sensor.  These sensors are very appropriate for locations where traffic is unobstructed by objects, but also spaces that are not too open.  According to the National Lighting Product Information Program, passive infrared occupancy sensors detected medium sized motion in an open space office area at 35% of the locations.  This data does not reflect the effectiveness of passive infrared technology but rather the planning required to appropriately place these sensors based on the technology they use.

In the same study, ultrasonic occupancy sensors were also tested.  The results revealed that medium sized motion was detected at 98% of the locations.  Ultrasonic occupancy sensors works similar to a submarine’s sonar technology.  The ultrasonic sensor sends high frequency waves that return to the sensor after traveling across a space.  Once irregularities of these patterns occur, the sensor is triggered. Once activated, the lights will turn on, and once the wave patterns return to a static state for a certain time the lights will turn off.  Ultrasonic occupancy can be used in more locations than passive infrared occupancy sensors because the waves they send out can move around barriers while infrared lasers are calibrated to static position.  Most ceiling mounted occupancy sensors use ultrasonic waves.  Applying these occupancy sensors to an automated lighting setup in an open office area is very effective.  The waves are capable if returning occupancy based information with in
subdivided areas by partitions or a traditional cubicle setup.

When integrating occupancy sensors into a cost effective automated lighting design, one should consider the usage of both types.  While the ultrasonic is useful in more locations, it also ranges from 15%-33% more expensive than a passive infrared occupancy sensor.  For this reason a cost efficient design will have passive infrared sensors where acceptable and ultrasonic sensors in other locations.


 
 Automated lighting controls come in various forms.  How they are each implemented into your home or office and how they work with one another will determine the effectiveness of your energy efficient lighting system.  Many new forms of automated lighting controls aim to take advantage of information shared by new utility sponsored programs called the "smart grid".  

 In essence, smart grid technology takes a network of data from power plant production to regional and final end user consumption, and reports who is using how much energy, where and when.  With this type of information power plant operations can distribute power accordingly without increasing peak production.  From the end user's standpoint, our homes and offices, we can access this same information to determine when electricity will cost the most and respond accordingly.

 But more effectively, companies have taken the initiative to develop automated
demand response lighting controls that eliminate the need for human response.  At the same time they enable the user to easily override the controls and set their own preferences.  While demand response lighting controls can be used by residential consumers to dim lights in specific areas during peak demand, they are most effective in commercial office applications.

 
To illustrate the potential savings of switching your traditional incandescent light bulbs to LED light bulbs or other energy efficient light sources, Energy Efficient Lighting Supply has created the Annual Energy Savings Calculator.  All you have to do is type in the watt rating of your current light bulb, the watt rating of a comparable LED light bulb, and how long the light will be on each day.  The calculator does the rest and immediately reports the amount saved per year in energy costs.
 
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On a recent trip to buy light bulbs, you may have noticed a label on light bulb
packaging that looks strikingly similar to the nutrition facts label on items at
the grocery store.  This new label, regulated by the Federal Trade Commission,
is designed to help consumers choose the correct light bulb based on criteria
pertaining to lighting quality and energy consumption.  For years, consumers
have purchased light bulbs based on the wattage or power consumption
and the capacity of the fixtures the bulb would be installed in.  This traditional
rule of thumb is actually backwards, and only applicable to incandescent light
bulbs. 

In an effort to produce more energy efficient and long lasting products, the lighting industry has produced different light sources that install in your traditional fixtures, but, because of varying technical attributes, produce different levels of light output that do not directly correlate to wattage.  After all, the purpose of an energy efficient light bulb is to produce the same quality of light while having a
lower wattage (power consumption).  This how-to guide will introduce the facts
on the lighting label and how to make sense of them.

 1.  Brightness- Perhaps the most important piece of information on
the lighting facts label is the measured amount of light emitted by a light
source.  It is measured in lumens, which can be further understood with
knowledge of the unit of foot-candles.  However, as a rule of thumb for
consumers, a 60 watt incandescent light bulb produces about 890 lumens.  Using this basis, energy efficient lighting decisions can be made according to light production not power consumption.

 2.  Estimated yearly energy cost- This fact is very self-explanatory as stated on the label.  It can be useful when comparing two labels side-by-side because the cost for each will be associated with the same amount of daily usage for the year. This number varies with usage per day and your utility rates.  As utility rates increase your annual savings compared to a less efficient light bulb will increase as well.

 3.  Life- Pertains to the average life of the product based on 3 hour per day usage.  The light bulb can last longer or shorter based on daily use. It is important to consider this number when comparing estimated yearly energy costs among light bulbs.  On an economic basis, the replacement cost associated with the life of the light bulb will impact the cost effectiveness of
your purchase more than the yearly energy costs associated with using the light bulb.  

 4.   Light Appearance- The label portrays light appearance on a kelvin scale of warm to cool.  This refers to the color temperature of all visible light.  The warmer the light the more yellow or orange it appears, a cooler light bulb will appear white and almost have a tint of blue in it.  This aspect of the label has no association with efficiency of the light bulb but can
be very useful to a consumer.  In general, warm lights are desired for interior use in living spaces as ambient lighting.  Cooler light appearance is desired for outdoor use or in kitchens or workspaces where high color temperature comparable to natural daylight is desired. 

  5.  Energy Use- A Watt is the unit for power and refers to the energy consumption of a light source.  The lower the number the more energy efficient the light bulb is.  As said before, this number has no universal indication of how bright a light source will be.

  6.  Contains Mercury- This note represents that improper disposal of the light bulb can be an environmental hazard.  A lot of people don’t understand that even though compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) are considered environmentally friendly because they use less energy, they still contain mercury.  For proper disposal procedures visit epa.gov/cfl as indicated on the label.




 
This detailed "how to" from Lutron will guide through the steps involved with installing your wall switch occupancy sensor.  Be sure to switch the breaker to the circuit you will be working on before performing any work.  With a screw driver and hardware supplied with your occupancy sensor switch, you can be on your way to saving energy in only 15 minutes! 
 
 It is often difficult to effectively light a kitchen.  Traditional methods of lighting use recessed lights, or hanging fixtures.  These
methods require more power consumption and light output to illuminate countertop workspace.  Many times you can't help but block the light as you are working and upper wall cabinets tend to shade a generous portion of your countertop.  There is a very simple solution to this inconvenience that seems to annoy us as we work in the kitchen.  The solution is this:  Place the light source in front of you and under the cabinets!  Under cabinet lighting can come in a variety sources.  There are three types of low voltage lighting that range in complexity, price, and function.  Each type is a sleek, energy efficient method of lighting the countertop space in your kitchen using LED's.  

Battery Operated LED Spotlights

 The most budget friendly method of lighting under cabinet work space is battery operated LED spot lights.  These individual lights come in packs of pod lights or in track light assemblies and can me mounted directly underneath your cabinet and spaced out as desired.  A benefit to this option is that they can be installed cleanly and simply without wiring.  

Battery operated under cabinet lighting can either be switched on or off at the source or many times are capable of turning on or off automatically.  The Slyvania Golden Dragon kit can be switch to an automatic mode controlled by
motion sensor.  Using the energy efficient occupancy sensor switch function you will never have to remember to turn the lights off!  Other products such as the Lumen LED High Output Spotlights come with a remote control that eliminates the need to reach under the cabinet to find the switch.  

If you are concerned about changing batteries all of the time,  the energy efficiency of LED high output lights is unparalleled compared to traditional incandescent, fluorescent, or halogen light bulbs.  This technological advantage combined with features such as occupancy sensor switches is sure to keep your battery changes to a minimum, and more money in your
pocket.

LED Strip Lights

Thin LED strip lights are possibly the most sleek and efficient under cabinet lighting source available.  More than convenience this option provides a modern and high-end look to any kitchen.  The low voltage transformer plugs into a conventional 12V outlet and provides balanced power to the lighted strips.  LED's burn at a very low temperature and consume very little energy making them a safe lighting application to mount right up against your wood cabinets. 

A main advantage of LED strip lights is that they offer a seamless stream of light underneath a large span of cabinets unlike spotlight or tracklights.  When retrofitting an existing kitchen, a sleek installation may involve a little bit of demolition, but once installed the LED's will provide bright, efficient lighting for years that require no batteries or maintenance.

 LED thin strip lights also come with energy efficient capabilities of dimming and automatic switch settings similar to battery operated options.

LED Rope/Ribbon Lighting

LED rope or ribbon lighting provides a similar look and functionality of LED strip lighting.  One advantage is that the rope can bend and form longer continuous runs of light.  A disadvantage at times is that structural composition underneath cabinets may interrupt a clean installation with rope or ribbon.  When calculated per length of cabinet, rope lighting can be more
expensive but necessary and essential to some custom kitchen designs.  

Overall, these three types of under cabinet lighting deliver the same exeptional LED light source to an otherwise desperate place in your kitchen.  In addition to energy efficiency and convenience, they offer an essential design aspect to any modern kitchen. 

 
 Wall switch occupancy sensors can be a great value and convenience in many household and office building applications.  It is a staple in even the most complex energy efficient lighting setups and can act alone to boost savings in the simplest applications.  Passive infrared occupancy sensors detect motion and will turn lights on and keep them on while motion is present in the room and will automatically turn lights off when motion is not detected for a designated amount of time.  These three occupancy sensors can be mounted to in a standard light switch junction box and can be easily installed the same as
a normal light switch as well.  In addition to having a hi-tech futuristic look, they will offer a lifetime of savings through daily use.  Never leave the lights on again!

 Leviton PR180 for $16.29
 Mount on any wall with 180 degrees of detection.  This device will sense motion in a 400 square foot area making it perfect for an energy efficient lighting setup in any room.  There are many different styles of wall plates to match any decor.

 Enerlites WOS15-W for $16.72
Turn lights off or on manually just like a normal light switch. Or set it to Automatic and let it do its magic.  The off time during automatic mode can be set from 15 seconds to 30 minutes of inactivity.

 Maxxima 500 Watt for $19.99
 This wall mounted occupancy sensor switch has a built in photocell that detects the presence of natural light and will turn off if enough sun light is present.  This added bonus feature will help to cut more money from energy costs.

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